Circus of Power - ‘Four’ (Noize In The Attic Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Gerald Stansbury   
Tuesday, 28 November 2017 04:00

Circus Of Power FourCircus of Power follows up ‘Magic and Madness’, 24 years later, with an enjoyable fourth album. I became a Circus of Power fan with the ‘Vices’ album and loved the diversity it had. I will admit that when ‘Magic and Madness’ came out I bought it on cassette, listened to it a few times, and don’t remember playing it much after that. I did pick it up on CD several years ago, but the connection still has not happened with that album. I had liked their ‘Hard Driven Sister’ song they relatively recently released so was hopeful heading into this one.

 

Alex Mitchell (vocals) has recruited Billy Tsounis and Joe Truck on guitars as well as John Sharkey on bass. The other new recruit is former Kyuss and Fu Manchu man Brant Bjork on drums.

 

They open the album on the strength of new single and video ‘Fast and Easy,’ which is a good move as the song is uptempo, catchy, and along the lines of what I expected to hear. The song would not have been out of place on any of their albums, going back to their self-titled debut. It is a perfect statement of intent. Follow up ‘Hard Driven Sister’ has been released as a one-off single in the past and remains a hard rock gem. ‘Rock Show’ follows in a similar manner but doesn’t have the same impact for me, as the lyrics are as straight forward as the title. I know Alex can deliver better lyrics. I imagine this one works much better in a live environment as it does get the foot tapping though. ‘Princess of Mars’ sees the band slow down with a very enjoyable midtempo song with great lyrics and really reminds me of something that would have fit on Iggy Pop’s ‘Post Pop Depression’ album.

 

‘Half A Dozen Roses’ continues the magic with a dash of the Rolling Stones peppered into the Circus of Power sound. I listened to this album several times before trying to sit down and write the review, and it was during a listen of this one that it dawned on me what a grower this album has been for me. This song remains my favorite on the album at this point and love the lyrics Alex penned here. The pace picks up with the heavy ‘Sin City Boogie.’ Sharkey and Bjork create a rhythm here that can level a building and allow Tsounis and Truck to weave in some cool guitars throughout the song before a primal howl from Alex near the end of the song. The band again conjures a song that could seamlessly fit into their catalog with ‘American Monster’ whose lyrics remind me of something Charles Bukowski would pen. While things seem less dangerous than they did when the band started, I really like the fact that the band has created an album that does not abandon their history but uses it as a platform to expand their sound. With 24 years and various members between albums, that cannot have been easy.

 

 

‘See the Sun’ introduces a twist in the delivery of the lead vocals and actually musically reminds me of a straight forward Monster Magnet song as both bands share some similar 60’s and 70’s influences. I love the guitar work here that creates all kinds of mental images. I can see this song receiving an extended jam section live. Sharkey’s bass opens up ‘Flying Into L.A.’ and leads into a pressured vocal verse that contrasts with a slower melodic chorus. This has been one of the few songs that has been a miss for me from the album. ‘Hot Rod Girls’ begins naturally with the sound of a hot rod before a handclap assisted verse begins. I know I would love this song even more live as it needs a little more rawness to it. I could see the band making a video for this one. The band creates a killer shuffle in the short ‘Love Sick Blues’ reminding me of how powerful they can make a blues rocker. Vocally, this might be my favorite performance by Alex on the album.

 

The closing trio of songs begins with ‘The Tea Song’ which features spoken word pieces where you would expect the verses. The lyrics in the chorus are relatively simple but are great because they allow the focus to be on all the other words in the song. ‘Blood at Standing Rock’ begins with the boom of the drums and bass before a cool guitar riff comes in with a hint of fuzz. More lyrical excellence here with this powerful rocker begging to be unleashed in every live show. The guitar solos are awesome, and it shows that Circus of Power still makes albums and not a collection of killer and then filler at the end. This song nips at the heels of ‘Half a Dozen Roses’ as my favorite on the album. ‘Come Git Some’ closes an album that exceeded my expectations after several listens with a sing along friendly rocker that I can see ending the show at the end of the encore.

 

This was not an immediate album, but ‘Four’ has grown on me with every listen. I think long-term fans will find a lot to like on here. I remember when the band hit MTV back in the 80’s there was a perceived danger element due to the band’s appearance as tattooed bikers, but it is safe to say that those days are gone with all the things we see every day now. Circus of Power circa 2017 have crafted an album of RAWK with fresh elements to create a cohesive album that has crept inside my brain and doesn’t want to let go. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to play it again.

 

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‘Four’ is released on 8 December. You can get your copy HERE.

 

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